The Holy Grail of Immortality

Casper Jacobs
May 23rd 2013

The biggest fight we have as an organism is life itself. Continuously resupplying our body with nutrients and energy takes its toll. Our cells that are constantly working, dying and dividing as we go through our life provide us with the means to live. However, these systems inevitably break down. Is this the way things have to be?

At the moment, scientists are trying to find the secret to immortality. By injecting mice with a dose of telomerase, scientists at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center were able to expand the lives of adult rodents by 24%. Telomerase stimulates the production of telomeres. Like the plastic cap at the end of shoelaces, telomeres are the bits of DNA that protect genes from "fraying" during repeated cell divisions. As telomeres shorten throughout our lives, cells' lifespans are shortened, leading to aging. Telomerase helps to repair old telomeres, therefore slowing aging.

For the procedure to work, the researchers used modified viruses to inject the telomerase directly into the cells' chromosomes. Such research may one day be able to control our lives to such an extent that we become immortal.

Story via Singularity Hub. Still from "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button".

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